Car Seat Best Buys For 2017

Your starting guide to find the perfect car seat

Your starting guide to find the perfect car seat.  Here are the Extend2Fit and Nextfit side by side.

Anyone who has ever purchased a car seat knows how daunting the task can be.  With hundreds of models and variations to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices.  I have personally handled dozens of car seats while teaching parents to install them as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and have found that some are easier to use than others, and some are more versatile than others.  This guide is a collection of car seats that, in my opinion, would be the most beneficial to a diverse audience.  

The most important thing to remember is that all properly used new car seats are safe and pass the same federal testing standards.  The “best” car seat is one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and that you are able to use correctly every time.  Anything beyond those factors is merely a preference.  

My third child in the Chicco Keyfit 30. It fits small newborns very well.

My third child in the Chicco Keyfit 30. It fits small newborns very well.

Infant Seats (Rear facing only)

Best Overall:  Chicco Keyfit 30.   This seat is very easy to install with either premium lower anchors (LATCH) or with the seatbelt lock-off feature.  It is also fairly narrow and can fit in a variety of vehicles, which can be helpful if you need to fit 3 seats in a row.  

Bang For Your Buck (BFYB):  Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX.  For a slightly lower price point, you can still get great features such as premium lower anchors and a no-rethread harness (harness height adjusts automatically when you move the headrest).  It also has a high upper weight limit of 35 pounds.

Budget Seat:  Evenflo Embrace.  This seat is easy to install and typically fits small babies very well, and also has a high upper weight limit of 35 pounds.  

Convertible Seats (Rear facing or Forward facing)

Best Overall:  Chicco Nextfit.  This is the easiest seat I have ever installed.  The Super Cinch feature makes a tight installation very simple with minimal effort.  It has a no-rethread harness and has great longevity with a good fit for newborns, rear facing until 40 pounds, and forward facing until 65 pounds.  

BFYB:  Graco Extend2Fit.    There are so many great features with this seat for a lower price point.  You can rear face your child to 50 pounds and forward face to 65 pounds.  It comes with an adjustable panel that can add up to 5 inches of leg room.  It’s easy to install, and one of the most compact convertible seats in width and length (when the panel isn’t extended), and can sit very upright, making it a versatile and long lasting car seat.

Budget Seat:  Cosco Scenera Next.  This convertible has a fantastic price and can accommodate most children rear facing until age 2.  It’s light and compact, making it great for small vehicles, 3 in a row, traveling, or really anywhere.

The Cosco Scenera Next is great for travel. I brought this on the airplane for my one year old to sit on. It was small enough to fit through the airport security check belts and narrow enough that I could wheel it down the airplane aisle with my Travel Mate and install it comfortably in the airline seat.

The Cosco Scenera Next is great for travel. I brought this on the airplane for my one year old to sit on. It was small enough to fit through the airport security check belts and narrow enough that I could wheel it down the airplane aisle with my Travel Mate and install it comfortably in the airline seat.

I usually use this Graco Extend2Fit for my one year old, but my four year old wanted to try it out. He is well within the height and weight limits of this seat, which is incredible!

I usually use this Graco Extend2Fit for my one year old, but my four year old wanted to try it out. He is well within the height and weight limits of this seat, which is incredible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combination Seats (Harnessed Forward facing to Booster)

Best Overall:   Britax Frontier ClickTight.  The Click Tight feature makes this seat extremely easy to install with the seatbelt (LATCH is also available).  Seriously, it’s magical.  It is one of the tallest seats on the market and has a no-rethread harness.  It can be pricey, but you can often find great deals if you shop around and are patient.

Our (older model) Graco Nautilus

Our (older model) Graco Nautilus

BFYB:  Graco Nautilus 65.  The Nautilus has added some nice new features over the years, including a no-rethread harness that is smooth and easy to adjust.  The Nautilus has good longevity and can be converted to both a high-back and backless booster, unlike some other combination seats.  It is fairly easy to install using LATCH, although it does not have premium lower anchors.  Kids enjoy the little storage area for toys or snacks next to the cup holder.

Budget Seat:  Evenflo Maestro.  This combination seat doesn’t have as high of an upper weight limit for the harness, but if you have average sized or smaller children you will still get plenty of use from it.  It is also very lightweight and convenient for travel.

Booster Seats (Positions the seatbelt only)

Best Overall:  Britax Parkway.  This booster seat has really nice head support (which helps them continue to sit properly if they fall asleep in the car) and an extra clip that helps keep the seatbelt low on the hips.  It comes with LATCH connectors to keep the booster in place when it is not in use so it does not become a projectile.

BFYB:  Graco Highback Turbobooster.  The Turbobooster is a long-lasting booster that can convert to a backless booster.  It has some head support and is lightweight, and has cup holders to boot.  {Note:  This booster has screws that you will need to put into the armrests.}

Budget Seat:  Harmony Youth Booster.  This low-priced booster is hard to beat for bigger kids.  It’s fairly compact and easy to move to different vehicles.  It is the least expensive booster on the market and still gets good ratings.  Safety for less than the price of a nice meal out? Yes, please!  Grab an extra or two to keep on hand for carpooling, grandparents, or whatever other needs may arise.  

Still stuck on what what seat to get?  I highly recommend Car Seats For The Littles to compare car seats.  They post in-depth reviews of the majority of popular seats to give you a better idea of the pros and cons, and handy custom comparison charts.  Those in the Oklahoma City metro area can also visit Green Bambino to take a look at some great seats close up and receive fantastic assistance in how to use them.

Moms, what is YOUR personal favorite car seat?  Share your opinions in the comments!

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed above are not an official endorsement and are only a guideline.  Always read the manual to ensure proper installation.

 

 

 

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